The Chinese electric car producer BYD, backed by billionaire US investor Warren Buffett, will establish its first wholly owned manufacturing plant overseas in 2013, going to the United States to produce electric buses, according to official Chinese news agency Xinhua.
Li Ke, senior vice-president of the Shenzhen-based company, said the factory will be in California, in an exact location to be announced in March or April. BYD will put the plant into operation in 2013 and will be able to produce 50 to 100 buses there in 2014. Starting in 2015, the production capacity will exceed 500 electric buses.
BYD’s K9 electric buses, which have already passed road tests, will carry a price of $550,000 to $600,000 each. They are expected to hit the U.S. market in March. The first customers will be Los Angeles International Airport, Apple Inc. and Stanford University, and California is expected to be significant component of the company’s customer base.
The Shenzhen-based company last week signed a joint venture agreement with a Bulgarian company to set up its first factory to assemble electric vehicles in the East European country.
The move to Bulgaria comes as a result of BYD’s ambition to use local production to bring its electric buses to more European countries. The company has signed agreements to export the vehicles to the Netherlands, Finland and Denmark.
The 12-meter long BYD electric bus is able to run 250 km (155 miles) on a single charge in urban conditions. This allows a travelling range that is sufficient for one whole shift in most cities. The core technology of BYD electric buses is BYD’s self-developed Iron-Phosphate battery technology boasting the highest safety, longest service life and most environmentally-friendly rechargeable chemistry. It also contains no heavy metals or toxic electrolytes. The accumulated mileage of BYD electric buses in Shenzhen, China alone has surpassed 11.81 million kilometers (or 7.33 million miles) by the end of November 2012.[source: China Daily]